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The 78th Golden Globes: Representation, Music and Minari

Witer: Veronica Yung

Editor: Tonwaan Apiratikiat

Graphic Designer: Janice Cheng

Tw: mentions of sexual assault and violence against autistic people

With the 78th Golden Globes having taken place on 1 March 2021, many have pointed out the problems with this year’s nominations.

The lack of representation is evident. No more than 2 BIPOC actors or BIPOC-led movies or TV shows were nominated in each category, despite many, good movies or shows with representation being eligible for this year’s Golden Globes. Both the Best Actor and Actress in a Drama Series categories, won by The Crown’s Josh O’Connor and Emma Corrin, did not have a single BIPOC actor nominated, despite shows like ‘Lovecraft Country’ or ‘I May Destroy You’ having stellar Black actors.

In the comedy/musical movie category, two BIPOC men (Dev Patel and Lin Manuel Miranda, who is white passing) and no BIPOC women received a nomination. This lack of representation in the comedy category shows how the majority of BIPOC stories stem from suffering. This is seen as the category with the most BIPOC representation is the Best Actor and Actress in a Drama Motion Picture, categories won by Chadwick Boseman and Andra Day, who are both black. There seems to be no space for main BIPOC characters in comedies or light-hearted stories, and BIPOC women tend to not be cast as the main love interest in comedies. BIPOC characters do not always need to suffer as a result of their race in movies as it reduces them to people who suffer constantly and are only seen as objects of pity. There needs to be space in Hollywood for light-hearted stories about BIPOC characters that are not linked to suffering, which will bring racial representation a step forward.

Another question many people had was on the nomination of Emily in Paris. With 63% on Rotten Tomatoes, the series follows Emily, the epitome of American arrogance, who refuses to learn French and tries to ‘Americanize’ her French colleagues. With many disliking the show, there was no reason for it to be nominated in place of a better received series with representation.

One of the biggest problems with this year’s nominations are the nominations of ‘Music’ in the Best Comedy/Musical Picture category and Kate Hudson, who plays Zu, for Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical. The movie, directed by singer-songwriter Sia, has faced backlash for the negative representation of autistic people, starting with the casting of Maddie Ziegler, who is neurotypical. When met with criticism, Sia said she ‘tried’ to work with a non-vocal autistic actress, who found it ‘unpleasant’ and ‘stressful.’ This does not surprise many when the movie has scenes with strobing lights, which induces seizures in people with photosensitive epilepsy, a condition common in autistic people. Sia also had the money to change the environment for said actress to make her feel more comfortable, so it is questionable why she did not do so. Many have also commented that Ziegler’s actions (stimming, facial expressions, etc.) were unnatural and looked like a mockery of autism.

Casting was not the only problem. Sia claims to have done 3 years of research for the film, but still chose to work with Autism Speaks. They are not well-liked in the autistic community, as their services also focus more on care for parents/carers of autistic people rather than autistic people themselves. They also have no autistic members on their board and have also been known to give only 1-4% of their extensive budget to family services. Autism Speaks’ research focuses on finding a ‘cure’ for autism, even though it cannot and does not need to be cured.. Sia’s decision to work with them is appalling, as doing little research on the company reveals this information. Furthermore, a scene in ‘Music’ involves physical restraint against Ziegler’s autistic character, which is dangerous and has killed many autistic people, including Max Benson in 2018 and Eric Parsa in 2020.

By nominating a film that is ableist and harmful towards the autistic community for 2 categories, we begin to question the morals behind those voting.

The Foreign Language Motion Picture category is for films that are in a foreign language for 51% or more of the movie. But unlike the Oscars, they cannot be nominated for Best Picture as well. With the United States being a country with no official language, what is as a ‘foreign language’ is arbitrary. The choice to make non-English languages ‘foreign’ perpetuates the idea that English is an inherently superior language, which is a problem seen often in America. Problems with this and last year’s nominations in this category is ‘Minari’ (2020) and ‘The Farewell’ (2019). Both films were written and directed by Asian-Americans, distributed by the American independent film company A24, and tells American stories about the Asian diaspora. The problem with their nomination in the Foreign Language category comes from ‘Babel’ (2006) being nominated for Best Picture despite being in a foreign language for over 51% of the movie. The only difference between these films are the big-name white actors in ‘Babel’, including Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. What this has revealed is the othering of Asians in America and Hollywood, despite these stories being inherently American.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, who vote for Golden Globe nominations and winners, has 87 members, and not a single Black member. According to Variety, it has been this way since 2002. The Vice President of the HFPA stated that they ‘must have Black journalists in [their] organisation,’ even though they had 2 decades to hire one. This is an appalling failure on their part, and shows the need for advancement in offscreen representation.

These problems are not evident in only the Golden Globes, but with most other award shows. This begs the question as to whether representation is really improving or being hindered by the industry as it allows badly-received media to be nominated as it pushes aside media with better stories and representation.



Nominations and scores

Emily in paris

I May Destroy You


Music and Autism Speaks,%E2%80%9420%25%E2%80%94on%20fundraising.



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